Appleyard: Cricketer who endured miserable childhood to excel

Former England cricketer Bob Appleyard, who suffered a miserable childhood — including the loss of his father, stepmother and two sisters in a gas leak when he was 15 — was born on this day in Yorkshire in 1924.

Appleyard, who could bowl fast-medium and off-spinners with exactly the same action, was touted among the country’s best bowlers in the 1950s, and despite his career almost getting destroyed by illness and injury, he went on to take 31 wickets in the nine Tests he played and another 708 wickets in 152 First-class games.

Appleyard, who passed away on March 17, 2015 at the age of 90, made his debut for Yorkshire in 1950, playing three matches and taking 11 wickets. But his best came the following season, when Appleyard took 200 wickets.

Soon after, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was not expected to live for long, but Appleyard, whose First-class career did not start until he was 27, returned to cricket taking 154 wickets in 1954.

He would bowl his off-spinners at almost medium pace.

Appleyard’s exploits earned him an England call-up. He took 5/51 on debut (seven wickets in the match), against Pakistan, and ended up with a total of 31 wickets in nine Tests at an average of 17.87.

He quit in 1958 and is today credited with setting up the Yorkshire Academy.

Appleyard was seven when his mother left home and when he was 15, around the time World War II was declared, he returned home from his grandmother’s house to find his father, stepmother and two little sisters gassed in the bathroom.